New Issue Released

Volume 6, Issue 1 is now availble to read. Essays by Gillilian Haines, Bari Benjamin, and Jeanne Powell, among others.Vol_6_Issue_1.png

Taking Refuge

by Marjorie Maddox

The sixty-year-old volunteer in a coyote T-shirt wipes the sweat from her brow with a brown bandana and then turns to us. “This morning at 10:00 am,” she says, “there were fifty people on this tour.” 

It is almost 2:00 pm and nearing 100 degrees. There are only four of us waiting on two paint-peeling benches. My daughter and I look around at the large, faded sign and near-empty lot, which we passed twice before deciding we had reached the entrance to our destination. “I guess this is it,” I said just fifteen minutes earlier, as I pulled alongside a still-locked gate. A smaller sign read, “Tour starts here.” A minute later, an elderly man in jeans had strolled out, smiled, unlocked the padlock, and swung wide the gate.

Since my eighteen-year-old had slept until noon, we would have to suffer the hot sun for the second and last tour of the day. We are joined only by a sporty grandmother and her pre-teen grandson, who is visiting her from California. They have hit the local amusement park they tell us, and tomorrow they will hike under the waterfalls in the nearby state park. Today, though, today is animal refuge day. The grandmother, who is younger than I am, shields her eyes from the sun and nods towards us. “Want some cold water?” she offers.

“Yeah, sure!” I exclaim, and she retrieves a bottle from the cooler in her nearby SUV.

“To Cats of the World!” we toast.

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Taylor's Drain

by Joy Weitzel

I look over the ridge and see green. I tell my husband to stop the car so I can take a picture; I want to remember what it looks like from up here. From this view, I see a few vultures floating on wind currents, looking more majestic than they should. I see tree tops and ridges that fall into valleys where patches of light green signal a farm or pasture. I can’t see within the green tree mass that guards the rhododendrons and their tangling pink flowers, the mossy stones that peer out of fallen leaves on the forest floor, or the little stream that trickles over stones but cuts a deep path, every drop running over sandstone to find the Tygart Valley.

I wait for a vision, a time machine to fall from the blue sky with its date set to 1847. If time machines were real and fell from the sky, I would hop in, and, as the lights and whistles spun around me, the mountains would reverse the seasons several times over. The trees would shrink back into the earth, leaving the ridge bare. Loggers would replace the timber with their axes, putting the poplars and birches back in place. Fields would open and close like fish rising, their lips breaking the surface to create ripples. When it all stopped, I would look out from the bald ridge I stand on, and I would search for a sign, something that says “I am here; this is my home. Come see me, and I’ll show you my life.” It would be above a cleared field that you might be plowing at this very moment, pushing the metal and the wood through the dirt. I would walk beside you, while you told me of the journey, the bear you killed last fall, how you know the earth—the technique for sowing and harvesting. You would teach me how to push the plow behind the mule, though I would slip in the dirt as the iron hit stone.

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Stacey

by Louis Gallow

This goes back to the Pleistocene and I'm all of thirteen in the first year of junior high, a hive full of thugs and hoodlums and insane maniacs where I definitely don't belong but my parents don't know any better and say I need experience so you can imagine the everyday terror like when I see one kid pull a .38-revolver from his pocket and brandish it around screaming, it's loaded, but there's bliss too, in band class when I see Stacey who is so far out of my league it's like glimpsing the edge of the universe though in fact she sits right next to me, second chair flute to my first, and she's a fully developed woman at thirteen and everyone agrees queen of the school and head majorette and twirler and dancer and whatever her reasons and against all odds she likes me and I of course adore her and when the band director Mr. Gendarvis taps the podium with his wooden stick to start a Sousa march she presses her thigh firmly against mine and I can hardly stand it and hope Mr. Gendarvis doesn't notice what's happening to me though how could he not? The whole class period, our thighs fused together, imagine, even with that heavy Cor Jesu senior ring glued to her finger with wax, her boyfriend, Tommy, from the Catholic school, rumored the toughest motherfucker in all Gentilly, you don't mess with Tommy for any reason, much less his girlfriend, and yet . . . 

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